7 Minutes in Book Heaven with Christine Suggs and ¡Ay, Mija!

Welcome to our Summer of Book Love series!

Every Tuesday this summer we will feature new episodes of 7 Minutes in Book Heaven which has your next summer read!

Today we meet Christine Suggs and their graphic novel ¡Ay, Mija! My Bilingual Summer in Mexico.

In this bilingual, inventive, and heartfelt debut, graphic novel sixteen-year-old Christine explores a trip they took to Mexico to visit family, embracing and rebelling against their heritage and finding a sense of belonging.

At first, Christine struggles to connect with family they don’t yet share a language with. Soon Christine settles into life in Mexico, eating pan dulce, drawing what they see, and growing more comfortable with Spanish. But when Mom joins their trip, Christine’s two worlds collide. Through exploring the impacts of colonialism in both Mexico and themselves, they find their place in their family and start to feel comfortable with their mixed identity.

Christine (they/them) is a comic artist and designer living in Dallas, TX with their wonderful partner, 1 dog, and 2 cats. Christine’s work explores the intersection of their identities, namely being a queer, fat, Latinx leftist who loves all things cute. Bonus facts: their day job is in app design, they are an avid Dungeons & Dragons player, and they’re quite obsessed with their cats.

Buy ¡Ay, Mija! My Bilingual Summer in Mexico

Visit our Bookshop or buy directly right now: https://bookshop.org/a/82376/9780316591928

Connect with Christine Suggs

Website: christinesuggs.com
Instagram: @csuggsillustration

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Credits

Host/Founder: J.P. Der Boghossian
Executive Producer: Jim Pounds
Associate Producers: Archie Arnold, Natalie Cruz, Paul Kaefer, Nicole Olila, Joe Perazzo, Bill Shay, and Sean Smith
Patreon Subscribers: Stephen D., Thomas Michna, and Gary Nygaard.

Transcript

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J.P. Der Boghossian:
Welcome to 7 Minutes in Book Heaven. My name is J.P. Der Boghossian. I’m an essayist, Lambda Literary Fellow, and founder of the Queer Armenian Library. And this is the podcast where I interview LGBTQ authors about the new books they have coming out for us to love and to cuddle up with. This is part of our Summer of Book Love series. Every Tuesday, for the rest of the summer we have your next book to read at the beach, or the pool, or in your bedroom next to the air conditioner. New episodes of This Queer Book Saved My Life! return on September 18! With me today is Christine Suggs. Hello!

Christine Suggs:
Hi, thank you so much for having me.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
I am so thrilled to have you here today. I’m really excited to talk about your book. So how this podcast works is that Christine and I are going to spend seven minutes in this virtual studio talking about their new book, ¡Ay, Mija! while also getting to know more about the amazing writer who is Christine Suggs. So Christine, are you ready?

Christine Suggs:
Yes, laid on me.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Alright, I will set the timer and here we are. Question number one, would you please describe ¡Ay, Mija! as if you’re sharing it with your celebrity crush and telling us who that celebrity is, of course.

Christine Suggs:
Okay, this took me too long to figure out who it would be, but I decided on Alice and Janney. So,

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Ooh! Yes!

Christine Suggs:
Yeah, she’s amazing. She’s perfect. Sorry, my cat is meowing in the background now. So if he shows up in this apologies. Okay, so, ¡Ay, Mija! is a story about teenage Christine, that’s me and them going to Mexico for the first time by themselves to stay with their grandparents and their Tia. And they don’t speak Spanish even though they’re half Mexican and they’re just doing their best out there. So it’s a real crash course in language and family dynamics and there’s tons of good-looking pictures of food. So, and you know, of course I would do some fanboying and you know, a lot of genuflecting to the Queen, etc.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Your book really resonates with me as an Armenian-American who does not speak Armenian above like a three-year-old’s level, so I’m really looking forward to reading it. However, let’s keep moving on here. Question number two. What’s a sentence from a novel, an essay, a poem, or other book that every time you read it, it gives you all the feels?

Christine Suggs:
Can I cheat and do a Broadway play?

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Oh absolutely, there’s no cheating in queerness, we can do whatever we want.

Christine Suggs:
Great. I would then pick a line from In The Heights where the like Abuela character says, “What do you do when your dreams come true?” and oh man every time I almost cry or sometimes do cry. It’s terrifying.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
It is, it’s terrifying. Okay, question

Christine Suggs:
[laughs]

J.P. Der Boghossian:
number three. What do you feel is the best sentence you’ve ever written?

Christine Suggs:
Okay, I would go with, “it’s strange being so loved by someone you can’t even have a full conversation with.”

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Again, your book just resonates so much with me! I can see why you feel that is the best! Okay, question number four. What’s the best romantic scene you’ve ever read?

Christine Suggs:
I’m big into fan fiction. So, it would just have to be just a series from, I do like Mass Effect fan fiction, Dragon Age, like all the Bioware titles. So probably one of those. I can’t like think of one exact one off the top of my head, but yeah.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
That’s fair, absolutely fair. Okay,

Christine Suggs:
[laughs]

J.P. Der Boghossian:
question number five. What are your favorite smells to write about?

Christine Suggs:
Okay, hmm. I mean food, it’s such a big thing in this book and it’s so hard to show that visually. So I just try to really, you know, I do try to draw them very nicely, but you know, trying to capture that sense of detail.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Any particular food that you like writing about?

Christine Suggs:
Pan dulce has a pretty big role in this book and I love it just because there’s so many different kinds. It feels like Pokemon, like gotta try them all

J.P. Der Boghossian:
That’s great. That is great. Okay, question number six. What is the worst writing advice you’ve ever got?

Christine Suggs:
Anyone that says do it every day because oh my gosh please listen to your body and your mental health and take breaks.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
So many writers have said that on this show and I feel that myself but I’ve also had other people like on social media that have reached out and said that’s me so it is definitely

Christine Suggs:
[laughs]

J.P. Der Boghossian:
some of the worst writing advice out there today.

Christine Suggs:
I just can’t do it.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Right? No I am not to the level of writing that you’re at but I cannot myself either. Okay question number seven. Promote with you, how do we follow you on social?

Christine Suggs:
Sure, so I am at CSUG’s illustration on Instagram. I’m most active there, a lot of stories with my cute cats, so definitely check that out. And then I’m also on Twitter at CSUG’s illo, I-L-L-O.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Perfect. And ooh, we have some additional time. Is there anything else you’d like to share with folks about your book?

Christine Suggs:
Just that I’m really excited. We actually just had the lunch party last night and it was so much fun. All my friends and family were there. I bought these crazy pinatas. It was a great time. I’m just, it was so emotional. Like I, you know, I definitely made my mom, my aunt cry. So like, I’m looking forward to making more people cry.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
And for folks who are listening, we’re actually recording this the first week of April. So when you’re listening to this, this isn’t literally last night, but I’m so happy that your launch party so well!

Christine Suggs:
Yeah, thank you. I was really like kind of shocked. I usually am very bad at public speaking. Like I stumble over words and can’t breathe, but I guess I broke through some sort of barrier because I’m a lot better at it now.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
I’m really glad to hear that. And hopefully you’ll be doing a lot more of it and readings as well into the future. And that is all the time that we have. Thank you so much, Christine.

Christine Suggs:
Thank you so much for having me. This was very fun.

J.P. Der Boghossian:
Well, thanks everyone for listening today. This podcast is Executive Produced by Jim Pounds. Our Associate Producers are Archie Arnold, Natalie Cruz, Paul Kaefer, Nicole Ollila, Joe Perazzo, Bill Shea, and Sean Smith.

Visit our Bookshop to buy the books featured on our podcasts as well as to browse new collections specifically curated by me.
thisqueerbook.com/bookshop

We’re @thisqueerbook on Facebook and Instagram. I’m also @jp_derboghossian on TikTok where I tok about LGBTQ books!
Be here next Tuesday for the next in our Summer of Book Love series. Until then, see you queers and allies in the bookstores.

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